Zoë Kravitz's DC debut is long overdue, it seems. Though she's currently making waves as Selina Kyle and her Catwoman alter ego in Matt Reeves's The Batman, the actress says she was passed over for a role in 2012's The Dark Knight Rises, the final installment in director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. Kravitz, who is biracial, tells the Observer she was turned down for an audition because she was considered to be too "urban."
“I don’t know if it came directly from Chris Nolan,” the star told the U.K. publication of the feedback. “I think it was probably a casting director of some kind, or a casting director’s assistant."
She didn't specify which role she'd had her eye on in the 2012 film, which ultimately starred Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway and future Ted Lasso actress Juno Temple in a small supporting part. Though Kravitz has gone on to claim the Catwoman role for herself opposite new Bruce Wayne Robert Pattinson, being snubbed because of her race still stings.
"Being a woman of color and being an actor and being told at that time that I wasn’t able to read because of the color of my skin, and the word urban being thrown around like that, that was what was really hard about that moment," the 33-year-old said.
As an actress herself, mom Lisa Bonet has offered advice to help her daughter deal with rejections within the industry. Bonet and dad Lenny Kravitz, both of whom are also biracial, have also encouraged their daughter to celebrate her individuality.
"They both dealt with being artists who didn’t act or dress or look or sound the way a Black person was supposed to act in terms of what white people specifically were comfortable with," Kravitz told the Observer, adding that her parents were "focused on trying to make sure I understood that despite the color of my skin I should be able to act or dress or do whatever it is I want to do.”
Now the face of YSL Beauté, Kravitz struggled with her looks, and her identity, growing up. Her perspective shifted, she said, when she began to better appreciate what the women in her own family — from her mother dealing with racist abuse girl in the 1970s, to her paternal grandmother, the late Jeffersons actress Roxie Roker, being one-half of the first interracial couple depicted on primetime TV.
“I felt really insecure about my hair, relaxing it, putting chemicals in it, plucking my eyebrows really thin," she shared. "I was uncomfortable with my Blackness. It took me a long time to not only accept it but to love it and want to scream it from the rooftops.”
These days, Kravitz gravitates toward roles that aren't strictly about race, citing her turn as Bonnie on Big Little Lies, which "was originally written for a white person."
"At one point, all the scripts that were being sent were about the first Black woman to make a muffin or something," Kravitz added. "Even though those stories are important to tell, I also want to open things up for myself as an artist.”